Get answers to your questions about the Physician Assistant Studies Program

General Program Questions

Does your Program provide housing for PA students? 

Yes, USJ offers housing for both male and female graduate students on a first come, first serve basis. Details on how to apply for housing will be supplied to students who are invited for interviews.

How long is the Program? 

The program is 28 months long, divided into 15 month didactic and 13 month clinical phases. Classes are in session year round.

Is the Program accredited? 

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the University of Saint Joseph Physician Assistant Studies Program sponsored by the University of Saint Joseph.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

What academic degree will I achieve at the completion of the Program? 

Students who successfully complete all program requirements will earn the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) degree.  

Will I be able to work during the Program? 

Due to the rigors of the PA curriculum, students are strongly discouraged from working while enrolled in the program. Under no circumstances will students be permitted to alter their academic schedule or be granted excused absences to accommodate work schedules. Students who are placed on academic probation may be prohibited from working as a condition of that probation.

Is there financial aid available to help fund my PA education at University of Saint Joseph?  

Financial aid in the form of federal student loans and private loans may be available to students meeting eligibility criteria.  Please contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have further questions.  

Will there be an Information Session held on campus? 

The program will hold an Information Session in early Spring 2017, prior to the opening of the application cycle.  Please check our webpage for updates.

How many students do you accept into the Program each year? 

The program has received approval to enroll up to 45 students for the class of 2020.

Why should I consider the University of Saint Joseph PA Program over other programs? 

USJ’s PA Studies Program has developed a unique modular curriculum, the only program of its kind in the region. Students will enroll in one course at a time, allowing for complete focus on mastery of clinical sciences specific to each organ system, with opportunities to begin integrating and applying concepts embedded throughout the curriculum. The knowledge and critical thinking skills developed during the 15-month didactic curriculum will prepare students to excel during the 13-month clinical phase of the program when they will complete nine, 5-week Supervised Clinical Practice Experiences and participate in activities designed to prepare them to enter clinical practice.

The University of Saint Joseph has been educating students in pre-professional and professional programs for almost eighty years, and is pleased to announce the development of our Physician Assistant Studies Program (PA Program). The University will enroll students into the 28-month program leading to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree beginning in Jan., 2017.

Rigorous academic preparation, coupled with a strong focus on ethical values, personal integrity and a sense of responsibility to meet the needs of society, guided by the core Mercy values at the center of a USJ education, will position our graduates for success as they practice medicine at the heart of patient-centered medical teams.

Application Questions

Can I send additional letters of recommendations beyond what is required? 

No, the program will only review and score 3 letters of recommendation for each applicant.  

When does the next application cycle begin and how do I apply? 

Applications for the cohort beginning in Jan., 2018, are being accepted in CASPA until Oct. 1, 2017.   Applications must have the CASPA designation of Verified and the program application fee must be paid by that date. 

To apply, visit  

When is the application submission deadline? 

Applications must be Verified by CASPA by Oct. 1, 2017 to be eligible for consideration for the Jan. 2018 class. 

The USJ PA Studies Program will utilize a rolling admissions process.  As such, there is a competitive advantage to submission of verified application as early as possible in the application cycle.  It is possible the class will be full prior to the Oct. 1, 2017 deadline.  

Do I need to submit my GRE and MCAT scores? 

No, neither the GRE nor MCAT are required or considered for application.

Is the TOEFL required and can it be waived? 

A minimum score of 100 (internet based) on the TOEFL, taken within the last 2 years, is required of any applicant who has earned a degree outside of the US.  This requirement cannot be waived, regardless of having completed coursework  or living in the US for any length of time.  

What are the requirements for an international student? 

International applicants must meet the same admission criteria as non-international applicants.  In addition, they must submit a course-by-course evaluation of their transcript and degree from a professional organization.  Additionally, if they have earned their degree at a non-US institution, they must submit TOEFL scores from within the last 2 years with a score of 100 or better (internet based).  

Can I transfer into the University of Saint Joseph PA Studies Program? 

No. The PA Studies does not accept transfer students.  All students must meet all application requirements and begin classes with a cohort at the beginning of the program.  

Do you give preference to University of Saint Joseph students? 

Yes. We currently extend preference in the form of a guaranteed interview to any student who meets all application requirements and has earned a degree from or completed 60 credits or more of their college study at USJ.  No points will be added to the applicants file scoring.  In the event a preferential candidate is not granted admission, they will not be offered preference in subsequent application cycles.  

Does your Program offer advanced placement? 

No. The USJ PA Studies Program does not grant advance placement/standing within the program curriculum based upon previous coursework or educational/work experience.

Regarding pre-requisite coursework, students having earned a 4 or 5 of Advance Placement tests in a subject meeting a pre-requisite requirement will be considered to have met that pre-requisite, however that course will not be counted in their pre-requisite GPA.  

How and when do you decide who will be interviewed and who will be accepted into the Program? 

We utilize a rolling admission process.  Applications will be reviewed and scored as they are received.  Students will be invited for interviews and admission to the class throughout the summer into the early fall if they meet certain scoring thresholds.  Students meeting minimum requirements for admission, but falling below the established thresholds for the application cycle will be placed on a waiting list. 

Student applications are rank ordered by score.  As we utilize a rolling process, we are not able to provide applicants with information about their position on the waitlist for interview or admission, as that information is constantly changing depending on activity within the applicant pool.  Should an opportunity for interview or acceptance arise, it will be offered to the first individual on the waitlist at the time the respective opportunity becomes available. 

Students will only be notified by the program once their application is received.  If you are selected for an interview you will receive notification from the program.  You will also be notified by the program if you are found not to meet the minimum admission requirements and once the class is full.  Students who have not received any communication from the program since the acknowledgement of receipt of their application should consider themselves on the waitlist for an interview opportunity.  

What type of Bachelor's degree does your Program require to be eligible to apply to the Program? 

Any Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution will meet the requirement.  International applicants must submit a course-by-course evaluation of their transcripts and degree to ensure they meet US equivalences.  

Will taking more upper level Science courses strengthen my application? 

Review of every applicants file involves evaluation of the student’s transcripts.  Performing well in upper-level science courses and in credit heavy semesters demonstrates strong academic aptitude.  However, we do not specifically award points based upon grades in upper-level science courses alone nor are these courses required for application to the program beyond those required by the pre-requisites.  


Experience requirements

Can I apply before I complete all the pre-requisites? 

Yes, you may apply with no more than 2 pre-requisite courses planned or in progress.  Any outstanding coursework must be complete by December 22th of the year prior to matriculation.  If you were to be offered acceptance into the program with in-progress coursework, this offer would be contingent upon completion of that coursework according to guidelines outlined in your letter of acceptance.  

If I took a pre-requisite course 7 or more years ago, will you still accept that course? 

Courses must be completed within 7 academic years prior to matriculation.  For the Jan. 2018 cohort, courses taken in Fall 2010/Spring 2011 semester or later may be considered.  If your coursework was completed prior to that date, you may submit this form to request consideration for a waiver.     

I am a medical professional, and my pre-requisite courses are past the 7 year requirement, can you waive the courses or do I need to re-take the required courses? 

Consideration for a waiver of pre-requisite coursework completed prior to the Fall 2010/Spring 2011 academic year will be done on a case-by-case basis.  The Admission Committee will evaluate the applicant’s coursework and professional work history to determine if a waiver can be granted.  Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have been working in a field where they have been utilizing the course content in order to be granted a waiver. 

Regardless of past education or work history, applicants must have taken all pre-requisite courses at some point in their academic history.  We cannot accept work history in place of a pre-requisite course.  

I still need to take a few more pre-requisite courses. Can I take them at a community college? Can I take them on-line? 

We will accept coursework and labs completed at any regionally accredited college or university, including community colleges and on-line coursework.  

I will have all my pre-requisite courses completed by December 23. Can I still apply if the PA Program cut-off date to submit official transcripts is December 22? 

Applicants must be able to submit official documentation from their professor and/or institution that all requirements for coursework or degrees, if applicable, have been satisfactorily completed by December 22th of the year prior to matriculation.  

Can any pre-requisite courses be waived? 

No.  All applicants must have completed all pre-requisite courses to be considered for admission to the program, regardless of educational or career history.  

Should I repeat pre-requisite courses to improve my grade? 

We will accept repeated coursework to satisfy pre-requisite course requirements.  The most recent grade will be used in your pre-requisite GPA calculation.  Both attempts at the course are calculated in your Overall GPA.  

Can I still apply with a pre-requisite GPA that is less than 3.0? 

No.  Applicants must have a 3.0 Overall and Pre-requisite GPA, as calculated by CASPA, at the time of application.  In the event an applicant is still completing courses after application, upon completion of that coursework, their GPAs must remain above 3.0 to be considered for admission.  

Why is my pre-requisite GPA from my undergraduate institution different than the CASPA calculated GPA? 

Many institutions use varying scales to calculate GPA.  To maintain consistency among applicants, we utilize only CASPA Verified GPA calculations.  If you have questions about how CASPA is calculating your GPA, please visit their website for more information.  

I have over 2,000 hours of paid and volunteer experience. Since the Program requires 250 experiential hours, will it be to my advantage to submit the 2,000+ hours, and will I need to complete and obtain supervisor signatures for each experience?  

No. The program requires verification of only 250 hours of experience to ensure that every applicant has met the threshold.  When scoring an applicant’s file, we will review and consider ALL experiences listed by the applicant in CASPA.  There is no advantage to submitting USJ verification forms demonstrating greater than 250 hours. 

Do non-medical experiences paid or volunteer, count toward the 250 required experiential hours? 

Yes, any volunteer work can be used to meet the requirement.  

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